1) Postmedia News:
National Defence hit as government cuts discretionary funds
The federal government plans to slash $4.9 billion in discretionary spending in the next year – with the Department of National Defence bearing the brunt of cuts, while departments involved in the Conservatives’ law and order agenda are spared.
The plan was unveiled Monday [Feb. 25] as Treasury Board President Tony Clement tabled the government’s main budgetary estimates for 2013-14 in the House of Commons…
According to the estimates, the government will spend $252.5 billion in 2013-14 – up from $251.9 billion the previous year. That includes $87.1 billion in discretionary spending – which is down $4.9 billion from $91.9 billion in 2012-13 [some 36% from DND, see below]…
The budget will be slashed by $1.8 billion – from $19.7 billion to $17.9 billion. Most of that comes from a $1.2-billion cut to operating costs, and a decrease of $480.2 million in capital costs…
2) Canadian Press:
…estimates tabled in Parliament on Monday, ahead of this spring’s federal budget, shows the Harper government anticipates the overall defence spending will shrink in the coming year to $17.9 billion, down $2.3 billion from what was actually spent in 2011-12.
In 2008, the Conservatives promised the military they would deliver stable and predictable funding over 20 years, with annual two per cent budget increases every year after 2011.
But as figures tabled in last year’s budget showed the increase is more than offset by cuts elsewhere.
The country’s top defence commander made it clear at a two-day defence symposium last week [more here] that the military is bracing for a prolonged period of austerity.
“There is a budget to balance — and Defence must do its part” Gen. Tom Lawson said. “That is an immutable fact.”
A spokesman for the minister said reductions were to be anticipated after the Afghan war.
“Canada ended its combat mission in Afghanistan in 2011 and will end its military training mission in 2014,” said Jay Paxton [see: "A NATO Afghan Squabble Canada Looks Like Sitting Out"].
“Naturally taxpayers would no longer be absorbing the costs associated with our training mission to Afghanistan when the deployment of our military members is complete.”..
Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Research Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute